(WB) Efforts to ban so-called conversion therapy gained significant traction around the world in 2022.

Only four countries at the end of 2021 had explicit laws that banned the widely discredited practice. Numerous jurisdictions around the world in 2022 have enacted legislation or taken executive action. The Global Equality Caucus, an international network of lawmakers who have committed themselves to fighting discrimination based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity, has driven many of these efforts.

Global Equality Caucus Vice President Tamara Adrián, who is also the first openly transgender woman elected to the Venezuelan National Assembly, told Washington Blade that “any compulsive therapy to modify sexual orientation is contrary to human rights. Subjecting a person to conversion therapy will be unsuccessful and can create very serious mental health problems, as these therapies use invasive behavioral methods to try to modify sexual orientation.”

“The consequence is that no one modifies their sexual orientation but may become unable to have relationships with any person and that is the reality in this matter. They are a mechanism intended to erase LGBT people from the earth,” Adrián added. 

Canada and France in January introduced LGBT-inclusive bills to ban conversion therapy for minors and adults, regardless of perceived “consent,” in clinical and religious settings. Anyone found guilty of offering or practicing conversion therapy is subject to a fine or jail time.

New Zealand in February passed the Conversion Practices Prohibition Act with the same breadth of protections as Canada and France. And in May 2022, following an amendment to the Health for All Act, lawmakers in Greece passed measures explicitly prohibiting conversion therapy for persons under 18 and “non-consenting” adults.

A law that lawmakers in the Australian state of Victoria passed in 2021 took effect in February. The law, first proposed in 2020, has been hailed as a model for legislation to ban conversion therapy and certainly inspired New Zealand’s ban.

Several Mexican states also banned conversion practices this year, following the nation’s first prohibition that Mexico City approved in 2020. Lawmakers in Jalisco, Baja California, Puebla, Hidalgo and Sonora states approved measures to ban them.

The British government’s decision to support a trans-exclusive bill to ban conversion therapy prompted advocacy groups to boycott an LGBT and intersex rights conference that was to have taken place in London during Pride Month. The conference was later canceled.

Nick Herbert, a member of the British House of Lords who advised then-Prime Minister Boris Johnson on LGBT and intersex issues, is a member of the Global Equality Caucus.

Indirect conversion therapy bans are “when countries do not explicitly prohibit them through legislation, however, they are not allowed from a mental health standpoint,” Global Equality Caucus Membership and Programs Coordinator Erick Ortiz told the Blade. 

Israel’s Health Ministry in February issued a directive that said medical professionals are prohibited from offering, advertising or performing conversion therapy, and those who violate the ban could face punishment. The Knesset in 2020 passed a conversion therapy ban bill, but lawmakers have yet to codify the directive.

India’s National Medical Commission the same month in a filing with the Madras High Court clarified that any licensed medical professional in the country who is found guilty of offering conversion therapy can face prosecution for professional misconduct. India, like Israel, does not explicitly ban the practice throughout the country, but the filing reaffirmed a 2021 court order that prohibits any attempt to “cure or change” the sexual orientation or gender identity of LGBT people.

Vietnam’s Health Ministry in 2021 issued guidance to clarify that homosexuality and transgender identities are not considered curable diseases and that doctors should not engage in coercive treatments that attempt to change someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

Paraguay in November joined Argentina and Uruguay in becoming the third South American country to amend its mental health law to prohibit a mental health diagnosis on the basis of “sexual choice or identity.”

Lawmakers in several countries in 2022 introduced bills to ban conversion therapy; but they have not been passed because of legislative processes, timelines and elections. 

Icelandic MP Hanna Katrin Fridriksson, a Global Equality Caucus member, in January introduced a bill in the Althing (Iceland’s Parliament,) but it has not yet progressed. Dutch Sen. Boris Dittrich, helped champion a bill in his country’s Parliament, but it was referred to committee. A bill in Cyprus also reached the committee stage and is likely to be passed in 2023.

Former Colombian Congressman Mauricio Toro introduced a bill, but it was not passed before the new Congress took office in July. A group of lawmakers from various political parties has reintroduced the bill.

Norwegian Equality Minister Anette Trettebergstuen introduced a bill proposing a total ban on conversion therapy, going beyond plans the previous government first announced in 2021. Lawmakers are currently reviewing the measure. The Belgian Cabinet has approved a similar proposal, but the lower house of the country’s Parliament has not given its final approval. 

The Mexican Senate after nearly four years of stalemate approved a federal bill after consultations with Yaaj Mexico, an LGBTQ and intersex rights group, and talks at the Global Equality Council summit that took place in Mexico City earlier this year. The measure will take effect once the Mexican Chamber of Deputies approves it, which will likely take effect in 2023.

Several other countries have expressed they support conversion therapy bans, but their governments or congressmen have yet to submit a parliamentary bill. They include Ireland, Sweden, Finland and some states in Australia. 

Peruvian Congresswoman Susel Paredes will lead a bill to ban conversion therapies in her country 

“Congresswoman Susel Paredes is waiting for the right moment to present the project due to the political problems Peru is facing,” Ortiz said.

 Washington Blade courtesy of the National LGBTQ Media Association.